Josh Charnley signed off from rugby league in fairytale fashion with the match-winning try to help Wigan clinch a fourth Super League Grand Final and leave Warrington waiting for their first.
The Wolves were on course for their first league title for 61 years after turning around 6-2 in front, but it was a tenuous lead and the Warriors turned the game around with two tries in nine minutes midway through the second half.
Centre Oliver Gildart brought them level by finishing off a break by man of the match Liam Farrell, before Charnley, who will switch codes and take up a three-year deal with Sale at the end of the month, touched down a grubber kick from fellow departing hero Dan Sarginson to complete the comeback and deliver a 12-6 win.
While Wigan celebrated what coach Shaun Wane described as his finest achievement, Warrington were left heartbroken for the second time in six weeks following their shattering 12-10 defeat in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
Wane, who was desperate to avoid a hat-trick of Old Trafford defeats, will feel vindicated by his decision to bring back skipper Sean O'Loughlin for his first game for two months. This match came only a fortnight after O'Loughlin tore a calf muscle, and he came off the bench to provide a calming influence at a crucial time.
Warrington coach Tony Smith kept faith with the team that started their semi-final against St Helens but bolstered his bench with the inclusion of experienced scrum-half Chris Sandow and he almost rescued the game for his side in a frantic second half.
Dec Patton, who might have made way for Sandow, justified his selection after 20 minutes, jinking his way through a gap in the Wigan defence following a sniping run from hooker Daryl Clark for the only try of the first half.
The youngster added the conversion to make it 6-2, which is how it stayed for the rest of the first half, though not for the lack of incident.
Warrington second-rower Jack Hughes, who was on the winning Wigan side against the Wolves in 2013, could have doubled the lead but for losing the ball as he attempted to touch down, while the opposition were always a threat with the ball.
Matty Smith, on his last Wigan appearance before his anticipated return to St Helens, had given his side the lead with an eighth-minute penalty and Warriors fluffed a gilt-edged chance following a clean break by the impressive Farrell when centre Anthony Gelling sent out a forward pass to Charnley.
It was not the first time the Warriors demonstrated a lack of composure and their profligacy continued at the start of the second half when they failed to make the most of a touchline break by left winger Lewis Tierney.
The pivotal moment came 13 minutes into the second half when Warrington centre Ryan Atkins forced his way to the line only to lose his grip on the ball in a five-man tackle, and within a minute Wigan were level.
Farrell slipped the tackle of Kurt Gidley to break free and get Gildart over for the 100th try in the history of the Grand Final that made it 6-6.
Wigan then punished a handling error by winger Tom Lineham on the hour when Charnley easily won the race to Sarginson's grubber kick to the corner.
Smith was again wide with the conversion attempt but made amends with a penalty seven minutes from the end and Wigan maintained their rock-solid defence to keep the lead intact.